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coverpic flag US - New York - Full Moon 102 - 01/25/05

LCD Soundsystem
LCD Soundsystem
Capitol/DFA/EMI

Hipsters these days. If they're good for anything it's for staying on top of what's going on in music, particularly in places like New York. Well, the hippest of the NY hipsters were talking about their own city's LCD Soundsystem, DFA Records, and James "The Bossman" Murphy as far back as the Summer of 2002. They were calling it "dance-punk". I remember Ryan Schreiber (Chicago) saying once that it was music journalism jumping right off the page onto the record. Immediately thereafter the next level of hipsters, the naysayers and malcontents, heard about DFA etc. and knew to hate it. Now it looks like the big boys, the totally un-hip major-labels, whom we all hate, have finally found out about (read: bought) this band and label, and EMI is releasing this debut with production coming exclusively from DFA.

Musicians these days. If they're good for anything it's ripping off the 80s, and honestly, that's exactly what this guy (and his small army) does. Sure, we have original melodies and lyrics here, but the style and beats are absolutely nothing new. But hey, I don't mind a little nostalgia for the 80s informing music. And besides, whoever said a style has to die out by the end of a decade (or year, nowadays) anyway? That's pretty stupid really. Maybe this 80s thing so many people (including myself) love never really died - those styles were embedded in all of our little brains when we were children riding around in the car with mom and the radio. Maybe "grunge" was just this huge mistake that the kids born in the 70s made, and James Murphy and his league of dance-party people might just be on to something. He says "dance to the new 80s sound". Or, it simply could be another mistake.

Listeners these days. Man, it seems to be all about the songs now. Some of us are good for downloading thousands of MP3s and having strong opinions on albums, but never actually listening to any album more than once through. Then we make I-Tunes playlists and forget about roughly half the music we hear. Maybe that's an exaggeration but I know all us Soulseekers couldn't possibly take in all 11 thousand MP3s we download each day. Anyway, because The Soundsystem are so single-oriented, like everybody else now, and there are only 9 new songs on this album, I've decided to individually review each new track, the first (oddly) in a sort of loose poetic style:

"Daft Punk Is Playing at My House"
At first glance this song fails.
On second it sounds bolder.
I remember:
This band sounds a lot better than this.
I think about the production:
Well, that bass sounds like Chris Hutelmyer
inside my eardrum playing live
Hand-claps are good!
"Daft Punk is playing at my house/In the basement/I'll never ever ever let them go"
"Please do not write songs about being a fanboy, ironic or not"
But: I'm sure Murphy could book Daft Punk.
And: Daft Punk's new album will sound better than this song.
Not: To be too bitter

"Too Much Love"
I begin to think of The Rapture, not because this song sounds like them, really, but more because it sounds like a polar opposite, both in terms of The Rapture's sound, and of their lyrical disposition. While I usually am not up for making a bunch of comparisons, I often find it interesting the way bands with the same production compare. Where The Rapture are Heavenly & Pious, LCD Soundsystem are Austere & Down-to-Earth.

"Too Much Love" is sort of, I don't know, an album song, a song that probably won't make it onto any "goods" mixes. While it seems a bit of a thought-piece, it is still a dance song. This one is good.

"Tribulations"
This song has been floating around for sometime. Good tune, I think. It's sort of jolting for it to follow "Too Much Love", but I suppose that was the intent. The production Tribulations has always seemed a little muddy to me. The delay on the voice is pretty nice. The drums sound pretty okay I guess. It's always seemed to me that this song should have been a whole lot better sounding, especially considering the frankly HUGE commercial appeal. Then again, I suppose that would be easy to say about any song that has the "blow up" potential of this song. It's too bad that "Tribulations" is old to me by now. And it just doesn't make any sense at all for this track to be 3rd. It doesn't follow "Too Much Love" well nor does it precede "movement" at all.

"Movement"
I wonder if Ted Leo and James Murphy know each other? It really sounds like it. So this is the first single off the album, huh? I was told the sound of 80s punk was dead, but this song hooks me. The way Murphy ends his phrases at the right times with that sort of under-the-breath schwa is just so ace.

"Never as Tired as When I'm Waking Up"
Well, they don't sound like Ted Leo anymore, now (I'm not shitting you) the band and he sound like The Beatles. This is a good song, great lyrics, and an album that is seeming absolutely anything but cohesive. But, you know what? Fuck it. I can't stop all those consumers from buying I-Pods. I feel like I'm going to cut the hell out of this album over the year and season a bunch of mixes with it. While I'm ready to jump on the bandwagon and this is truly a good song, maybe even the best on the album, I just don't know about this Beatles/Murphy thing.

"On Repeat"
Back to the olde dance sound again eh? Like I said, I'll go with this band, they can take me into prog-dance territory next if they want. They don't have to sound the same from song to song at all.

Nice drumming in this one. I do like that hi-hat. It does a good job of taking away from the sound of this song being basically less interesting. Neat trick, but I guess I have to say it doesn't fool me. He does the voice thing I love so much a few times, but this rivals the opening track for worst on the album so far.

"Thrills"
The weirdest song on the album, "Thrills" is a song that mostly is boring me. I do have a short attention span, but I don't believe I really like this song all that much. I'm still on the bandwagon, but it's really looking like this album has more than a few mediocre spots.

"Disco Infiltrator"
And now, a Beck impression. And what's up with the Outkast sounding singing at the end? It's just too obviously derivative here. But again, this seems to be part of these old guys' schtick. The impressions are really well done.

"Great Release"
They complete the album with that Prog song I was asking for, and that's totally cool. This is a good way to end this. There's actually not too much to say about this song except it's that long crescendo of a song you'd expect, the one that sort of settles things somehow and lets the end of the album slip right down into its final moments.

If nothing else, this group of dynamic young people are tied into an American, and really, a growing World culture centered on Tastes, Liberalism, Libertarianism, Anarchism, Humanitarianism and Activism, among many other good things. I mean, I hate hipsters, and this band is that, but whatever. In the grand scheme of things I have to say this is the type of thing I would definitely get behind. I'm certainly not saying that LCD Soundsystem and DFA are capstones of modern music, or even great music. That doesn't really matter. I would run into a revolution full-speed with these people and those who support them. They definitely didn't give their vote to Bush, and in the end they do indeed get mine, albeit a bit hesitant.

Copyright © 2005 Bill Banks e-mail address

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